We’d like to introduce you to Keima Ueno, an MBA candidate at Harvard Business School who blogs about his b-school experience at Two Years at HBS. Read on for tried-and-true tips on getting into your top choice business school. Thank you Keima for sharing your story with us!
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from, where did you go to school, when did you graduate, what prior degrees do you hold, and what are some of your most recent jobs?
Keima: I was born and raised in Japan. I have Master’s degree in Economics and studied corporate finance and econometrics. In 2007, in the heyday of the financial bubble, I joined Morgan Stanley and worked in M&A Advisory Services. In 2009, I moved to the Boston Consulting Group and worked for three years as a management consultant.
Accepted: How many b-schools did you apply to? Why did you choose HBS? How is that the best program for you?
Keima: I applied to seven b-schools and was lucky enough to be admitted to most of them. The following factors were key in my decision to attend HBS:
• Ultimate decision-making training:
Having worked at an investment bank and a consulting firm, I was proficient in business jargon, frameworks and analytical skills. What I needed was to hone my decision making skills before assuming a management position.
• Business passport to the world:
Since I aspire to expand my own business globally, I wanted a “passport” which would make it easier to travel from organization to organization, from country to country, everywhere around the world. HBS’ reputation and strong network will make this possible.
Bottom line – when I meet someone anywhere in the world, there will be no need to explain my business acumen from zero.
• City of Boston, a healthcare haven:
Boston is known as a city of healthcare. In southwest Boston, there is an area called Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA). In this area, surrounding Harvard Medical School, are nearly 20 healthcare institutions attracting a multitude of talented healthcare professionals from around the globe. Since my career interest is in the healthcare industry, I wanted to build a good network in this city.
Accepted: Has the program lived up to your expectations? Are there any surprises?
Keima: The HBS MBA program has exceeded my expectations.
As many know, HBS utilizes a case study method. We learn all subjects, such as marketing, finance, technology, operation, and leadership through case studies. Before I came to HBS, I didn’t know how dynamic the class environment was. It is like a well-organized show, and a heated board meeting in an actual business situation. Since every student argues their point seriously from the beginning to the end of class, I cannot drop my guard for a second. Coupled with the students’ diverse backgrounds and the faculties’ powerful direction, the class room becomes the world’s best place to educate business leaders.
Since 2011, HBS has also been offering its unique learn-by-doing program, Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD). The program offers HBS students opportunities to immerse themselves in team based problem solving and actual business experience in emerging countries. These experiences complement the case study method, enabling us to put to use the skills we have learned. It was a pleasant and unexpected surprise to find that HBS was not just a place which teaches us business jargon, framework and analytical skills, but was an interface between the real business world and the best academic place.
Although it’s challenging to maintain a healthy study-life balance in such an intensive environment, I’m really enjoying life at HBS so far.
Accepted: Can you recommend a cozy coffee shop or another spot where you enjoy studying on or near campus?
Keima: I would recommend HBS’s cafeteria and study lounge. It is located at the center of the HBS campus on the first floor of the Spangler Building. The cafeteria is open to the public and has a wide variety of cuisine: salad bar, sushi bar, buffet, grill, etc. I promise it’s better than you expect.
The study lounge is also worth taking a look but please be quiet since many students are reading cases there.
Anyway, I recommend that all applicants visit the HBS campus.
Accepted: What are your future plans? On your blog you mention starting your own business in the healthcare sector? What are some of your ideas for building a better healthcare system?
Keima: I have a family business background. My family is running a healthcare related company in Japan, and I am going to join the business right after graduation.
Japanese society is aging rapidly. While the total population has decreased, the population of people over 65 is increasing 3% annually. Because of the increasing older population and the growing interest in preventive medicine, the Japanese healthcare industry (US$ 200 billion market size) is growing 5% annually. Although the market has a strong need for sophisticated healthcare services, the Japanese government and private companies are not meeting the demand wholly.
My career goal is to succeed as the CEO of the family business, expand the business to become the top pharmaceutical sales company in Asia, and provide the best quality healthcare services to consumers. I am going to spend significant time during my two years at HBS developing my business’s blueprint.
Accepted: Can you share some b-school admissions tips for our blog readers?
Keima: Following are the takeaways from my business school application process of last year.
• Visit schools you are going to apply to as long as your budget and time allow. It enriches your understanding of the schools and enhances your motivation dramatically.
• Don’t be overly concerned about your GMAT score. There are many successful applicants whose GMAT score is less than 700. Allocate the time on your essays and interview preparations, rather than on a marginal improvement on your GMAT score.
• Don’t bet on only one school even if there is only one school you want to go. By writing other schools’ essays, you can refine your essay for your first choice.
• Review your essays a million times (literally!) before you submit.
• Be prepared for the interview. You can’t practice enough. Many applicants blow their chance of admission at this stage
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